The Whistle Stop train was moved
forward for a meet with an Anchorage
bound passenger train, known as the Cruise Train. This train
either originated from Whittier or Seward taking cruise ship passengers
from their ship at the end of their cruise to Anchorage. Whistle
Stop Conductor Mark Bear is seen giving instructions to his engineer.
The Cruise Train is made up of beautiful passenger cars with wrap
around windows from seat level to the ceiling.
Just a few more miles down the track, we reached Portage Junction,
where the 12 mile branch track heads to Whittier. At Portage, our
train picked up several bus loads of doctors and their families who
were attending a convention in Girdwood. They were either going
to go on the float trip or stay on the train for wildlife viewing.
The Whistle Stop train traverses towards the first of two lengthy
tunnels. Below right, the low clouds and rain are masking Portage
Below right, cars are waiting for their turn to drive through the Anton
Anderson Memorial Tunnel.
After the Whistle Stop train reached Whittier, I volunteered to exit
the train to buy batteries for one of the young women nearby my
seat. I quickly found the store, purchased the batteries and
thought "I should keep walking to Varley's Swiftwater
lunch." The moment Margaret Williams spotted me she said "hello
Richard!" though I had not seen her in several years. If you
more than a few minutes in Whittier, I highly recommend patronizing
Varley's. They specialize in delicious fresh fish. I walked
back to the train with the batteries and my
lunch. I found a table at the end of one passenger car and
started consuming the lunch. The few people who walked by all
wanted some of my lunch from Varley's.
After the 45 minute pause in Whittier, the Whistle Stop train reversed
direction on its way back to Portage and points away from
Anchorage. The lily pads and waterfalls are spectacular.
The Whistle Stop
A lot of people detrained at the
Whistle Stop/float trip
location. Two people had full backpacks and took off while
another couple did their own hike. All of the other people who
went boating took a very short bus ride to the launch location.
This trackside Whistle Stop is the first of 5 planned
locations. Here one finds newly built shelters with plenty of
historical and contemporary information. This is the railhead
opening to a recreation area open for reserved camping in developed
group fee based campsites. Outside the recreation area, camping
is no fee andr reservation free without services. In other works,
bring everything yourself.
Whistle Stop Page 3